Millions of students each year invest in their future by taking out federal loans to go to college. For many, these loans will prove to be a worthwhile investment. However, far too many borrowers struggled to repay even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, with more than a million defaults in 2019 alone.
Due to the pandemic, the federal government has provided key financial assistance to most federal student loan borrowers by suspending interest and payments and halting collection of delinquent loans. While the US Department of Education has announced its intention to resume loan repayments in February 2022, it looks like the federal government may provide additional relief to borrowers who were in default before the pandemic.
In the meantime, here’s a timeline of what happens when a borrower defaults and then fails to pay off a direct federal student loan – and how to protect yourself from the resulting financial damage.